Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. Have you ever wondered what makes a good anime? The answer is pretty simple and applies to all forms of media. Tell a compelling story with interesting characters who have great interactions off each other, keep a balance between the drama, comedy and action, and just have fun with what you’re doing. One of the animes that has excelled at this, this year is none other then Golden Kamuy. Coming out this past spring, Golden Kamuy was definitely one of the highlights of the season for it’s great writing, characters, and story. The series is based off a manga written by Satoru Noda in 2014 and still continuing to this day where we focus on characters going on a gold hunt in the harsh environment of Hokkaido. The series was a big hit getting praised by fans and critics since it’s released and the anime done by Geno Studio only helped to spread the fandom of the series to the west. With the second season set to premiere this October I can think of no better way to get excited than by looking at the first season. Let’s hit the winding road and take a look at Golden Kamuy.
Opening and Ending Theme
Our opening is “Winding Road” by Man with a Mission. The song is great as it’s done by Man with a Mission who always do great songs and it’s nice to see them get more attention in the anime community. The song does a good job capturing the emotions of the characters and the theme of the series. The road they’re on is full of uncertainty, dangerous, and difficult but at the time exciting, adventurous, and feels them with hope that they’ll find what they’re looking for as well as get the answers they need. The instrumental is good, and I like the mix of English and Japanese in the song.
The ending is “Hibana” by The Sixth Lie. This is a band I’m not familiar with but after hearing this song I instantly became a fan. It’s a very upbeat song for an ending that honestly could work as the opening as well. The whole song just sounds amazing from beginning to end and I like how we get a shot of all the major characters in the anime so far. This was definitely my favorite ending from the spring lineup and I guarantee you it’s gonna be on the top 11 endings of 2018 list.
The anime starts in 1904 in the snowy region of Hokkaido during the Russo-Japanese war as the Japanese army is about to fight the Russians (long story short, they were fighting over imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. In the end Japan won, a treaty was signed, and the world was shocked that an Asian country defeated a European country). We focus on our main character Sugimoto voiced by Chikahiro Kobayashi who charges in first with his comrades into battle as they get shot at (their military strategy, keep charging forward). Sugimoto himself gets shot yet he doesn’t go down, he instead manages to reach enemy lines and proceeds to kill 7 people like nothing (scene here: https://youtu.be/xLOKBZhBw7Y, and he solidified himself as a badass. He got shot, didn’t die, killed the guy who shot him, and then proceeded to kill 6 other people along with more people apparently later on. Badass). Sometime passes and the war is over where Sugimoto earned himself the nickname Immortal Sugimoto as nothing could kill him (strong body. See what happens when you eat well kids?). However, he kind of left in disgrace on account of he killed a superior officer he didn’t like (and he’s still alive? Shouldn’t he be in prison or killed for that?). He now spends his days looking for gold in the Hokkaido region in order to pay the medical treatment for a friend’s wife. Sugimoto’s friend died in the war and the wife is slowly going blind and won’t get to see her child grow up (scene here: https://youtu.be/2VNnKQKkpQU). Wanting to honor the dying wish of his friend, Sugimoto looks for gold but really has no luck. As he’s looking a drunk tells him the story about a man who stole a bunch of gold from the Ainu tribe but got arrested and sent to prison where he died. But before dying and going to prison, he hid the gold in the Hokkaido region and in order to find it he marked a bunch of prisoners with tattoos with clues on where to find the gold (and they all agreed to this? That guy must have some leeway in prison). Some guards found out about the gold and took the inmates with them to Hokkaido where the prisoners killed the guards and ran away into the mountains to look for the gold and claim it for themselves. Sugimoto doesn’t really believe the story (yeah you lost me at the tattoo part) but when the drunk tries to kill him saying he’s said too much he starts to think otherwise. Sugimoto manages to disarm the drunk and chases after him into the woods where the drunk got killed by a bear (https://youtu.be/kONmDCla6Nc) and Sugimoto checks the drunk’s body which is covered in tattoos meaning the story is real (that, or the guy really liked tribal tattoos). He tries to take the body back with him to his village but gets attacked by a bear. He gets saved by an Ainu girl named Asirpa voiced by Haruka Shiraishi who uses a poison arrow to kill the bear (scene here: https://youtu.be/3fLrvw_zJJA. Nice, too bad the bear meat will be uneatable now) and reveals that this wasn’t the bear who killed the drunk meaning there’s another more dangerous bear lurking about (and you took its food). In a show of good faith, Sugimoto tells Asirpa about the gold and she believes him as one of the Ainu people that were killed that day was her dad (oh shit, sorry for your lost). They get prepared to fight the bear as night comes where as they gather firewood to keep the fire going, the bear shows up and attacks Sugimoto where he’s forced to fight the beast in the dark (in a moment of badassness he actually punches the bear in the face. Okay, are you like Kenshiro’s great great great grandfather? Because this would explain so much) where Asirpa shoots it but it has no effect on it. The bear charges at her where she gets saved by a white wolf which allows Sugimoto to shoot it. This gets the bear’s attention and it charges at Sugimoto where after the bear body slams him, he managed to stab it in the heart killing it instantly (scene here: https://youtu.be/IQCl03E-AEY). As the episode comes to an end, Sugimoto tries to convince Asirpa to team up with him, find the gold, and avenge her father (he also skins the dead drunk. I had no idea skinny a man could be so easy. Scene here: https://youtu.be/fMOUQh4UdjQ).
In episode 2 Sugimoto and Asirpa arrive in Otaru to look for the prisoners believing they’ll hide in big cities as to not stand out. They ask around to get information where nobody has seen anyone they’re describing. However, one of the prisoners does come after them in the forest and tries to kill them (dude, you’re taking on a trained soldier and a native Japanese who knows this land like the back of her hand. You don’t stand a chance). The prisoner falls into a noose trap and gets captured by the duo where Asirpa has forbidden Sugimoto from killing them (scene here: https://youtu.be/WxL6PCdgpLE). Instead, she draws the tattoo as apparently, she’s good at drawing. As she’s drawing, the prisoner gets shot by another soldier who served in the Russo-Japanese war and was a member of the famous 7th division (now if you want to talk about badass soldiers, look no further then these guys. The 7th division are considered the heroes of the war. They took on some of the deadliest missions the war had to offer and won. If it hadn’t been for their contribution the war might have ended differently). Sugimoto manages to hold his own against the soldier who falls off a cliff, hits his head, and falls into the river (yeah, he’s dead). Luckily, he gets fished by out by other members of the 7th division. We return to Sugimoto and Asirpa where she gives him a lesson in Ainu culture and its fascinating stuff (I’m legitimately intrigued by this). We learn how Asirpa had a deep bond with her father as he taught her how to hunt, cook, and craft stuff (you can just tell he wanted a boy). The next day they catch another prisoner named Yoshitake an escape artist known as the escape king voiced by Kentarō Itō. Sugimoto tries to interrogate him for information but gets distracted with Asirpa over a bunny (bunny meat is good). Yoshitake uses this chance to escape by pulling out a razor from his mouth (oh God, I hope nobody punches him in the jaw) and Sugimoto chases after him where the two accidently fall into the river and have 10 minutes to warm themselves up or they’ll die from hyperthermia. We get a funny and well-done scene where the two try to start a fire but the effects of hyperthermia are slowly starting to set in. Sugimoto gets the idea to start a fire using the powder from his bullets, but they all fell in the river. Yoshitake has one in his mouth (what else do you have in there?) and says he’ll only use it if Sugimoto agrees to spare his life and let him go. Sugimoto agrees to his deal and they manage to start a fire (scenes here: https://youtu.be/uSZ5jyfXKPI and https://youtu.be/SKpoRNzVwDU) where Yoshitake informs him that there are 24 prisoners total he needs to find (3 down, 21 to go) and that he needs to be careful should he come across a prisoner named Toshizo who was the leader of the prisoners and the one responsible for letting everyone escape. Despite his old age the man is actually a samurai who fought to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate and is a former vice commander of the Shinsengumi (oh shit, I ain’t messing with those guys, they’re crazy). He, along with a few other prisoners have teamed up and are looking for the gold and apparently all the prisoners were told to gather in Otaru. Sugimoto tells Yoshitake to forget about the gold and just escape but Yoshitake is confident that whatever comes his way he can escape and the two men go their separate ways as we see the 7th division is also looking for the gold as well (it’s a multi-battle for the gold in Hokkaido).
Episode 3 starts off on a laugh with Asirpa confusing miso for poop (scene here: https://youtu.be/G6AhZP427Zk). After that we get a bit of action as 4 soldiers of the 7th division spots them (oh hell). They’re target is clearly Sugimoto so he gives Asirpa the drawings, tells her to feign ignorance if they catch her and give the drawings to them, and they split up. One soldier goes after Asirpa where she hides in a tree and speaks her native language (man this series is really authentic) to trick the soldier into thinking she doesn’t understand him. Asirpa doesn’t hand over the drawings believing she can take him down himself (which she could because she’s awesome) but the soldier has good instincts and figures out her plan. He draws his gun on her (you so much as hurt my girl and you’ll be a part of the Hokkaido landscape) but she gets saved by Retar an Ezo wolf (aka the Hokkaido wolf) who seems to be on good terms with Asirpa (scene here: https://youtu.be/25QiKc3euFE). While Retar doesn’t kill him he does break his leg and toss him around a bit (puny soldier). Back with Sugimoto, he gets cornered by the soldiers and dives into a bear cave believing Asirpa’s words that a bear won’t attack those who enter their cave ( https://youtu.be/a9U_C_q6WcU). The soldiers shoot inside the cave where the mama bear comes out and kills 2 of the soldiers. The third killed the her but in the process he died as well (still, badass. Motherfucker took a bear down all by himself. Scene here: https://youtu.be/Z-ltd3wqpew). Sugimoto decides to take care of the cub (wow, it’s like the Jungle Book only the roles are reversed) and hides it from Asirpa believing she’s going to eat it but she discovers the cub and rather than eat it they instead take it back to her village where they’ll raise the cub for a year or two and kill it themselves in a grand festival (Ainu beliefs). While at the village we get to meet Asirpa’s grandmother (scene here: https://youtu.be/2ldgsPb_7y4) and the village who are curious about Sugimoto (that and they believe he’s Asirpa’s husband. Well they do make a good team). In another part of the story we see Toshizo find one of the escaped criminals named Ushiyama (a monster among men who loves women and training). Rather than kill him he instead recruits him to his team. He knows that eventually he’s going to have to face the 7th division and is going to need all the help he can get if he wishes to beat him (he’s smart, he’s no fool). Speaking of the 7th division we get to meet Tsurumi a lieutenant of the 7th division who had the upper part of his face blown off in a bombardment during the war. He’s leading a few of the troops through the snow in the hopes of finding the missing soldiers but has to turn back due to the snow. A higher officer shows up and berates him for going out on his own and mishandling 5 soldiers (3 dead, 1 missing, and the other in critical condition). Tsurumi responds by biting off the commanding officer’s finger (damn! Well at least we know where Ozzy Osborne and Mike Tyson got their inspiration from) and gets shot by another officer.
Nothing much really happens in episode 4. Sugimoto and Asirpa are still in her village where they play with the kids (scene here: https://youtu.be/ciKpE01gbZ4). We learn the backstory of Retar. We find out that it was Asirpa and her father who saved him from a bear when he was just a pup and since then followed them around whenever they went hunting. Even after Asirpa’s father died, Retar still followed after her and protected her from harm until he had to return to the wild realizing he couldn’t be a house pet (scene here: https://youtu.be/IutTYGsDNkk). After seeing how much the village loves Asirpa (she’s one of a kind), Sugimoto decides to leave her behind in secret as to keep her safe (noble but stupid of him). He returns to civilization where he gets a tip about one of the prisoners only to get ambushed by the 7th division (you guys already loss 5 soldiers to this guy, just leave him alone. Scene here: https://youtu.be/0HPBi-egPXQ). He gets captured and taken in by Tsurumi who figures out he’s Sugimoto and tells him of his master plan to use the gold to buy the latest weapons from America. Why, for the spoils of war. After the Russo-Japanese war, Japan didn’t really ask for any war compensation from Russia (I guess they were trying to show honor in victory) meaning that the soldiers didn’t get nothing as well and were sent back home with nothing (except a bag of trauma and nightmares). Tsurumi and the 7th division now want to use those weapons to take over Hokkaido and declare it an independent nation from Japan. Tsurumi invites Sugimoto to join their cause, but he says no meaning he’s gonna die (scene here: https://youtu.be/NIvehG0jLdE, kill him nice and slowly). Asirpa and Retar reach the town and look for Sugimoto using one of his socks. Unfortunately, that sock belonged to Yoshitake and that’s who they find. Yoshitake does know where they’re keeping Sugimoto but not wanting to get involved tries to escape until he gets easily captured by Retar (the escape king is no match for the wild) and has no choice but to help them out (scene here: https://youtu.be/Gv34ox5at9U).
In episode 5 Yoshitake, Asirpa, and Retar make it outside of the 7th division’s HQ where Sugimoto is being held. Yoshitake agrees to help Asirpa save Sugimoto in exchange for splitting the gold with him which she agrees to do (she don’t need it, she’s already priceless). Back in HQ, Sugimoto is busy fighting two soldiers who carry a grudge from last episode. Despite being tied up Sugimoto manages to hold his own long enough for the other soldiers to come in and save him but he knows the soldiers will be back to kill him so he tries to think of a way out (scene here: https://youtu.be/pLE6NJqRYEg). As he’s thinking, Yoshitake comes in naked and covered in bear fat (I’ve seen crazier stuff) and manages to get the cuffs off of Sugimoto just in time as the soldiers from earlier have come to kill him. Not wanting to alert the other soldiers, the one soldier decides to use his bayonet while the other stands watch outside. Sugimoto leaps into action and kills the man but he himself got cut open and is slowly dying (scene here: https://youtu.be/5FeMF4PqIuQ). Tsurumi offers to save his life in exchange for the tattoos and Sugimoto takes it. As Sugimoto is getting rushed to the hospital, Tsurumi examines the soldier and discovers that the soldier has his guts missing. He quickly realizes that Sugimoto cut his guts and used them to fool them all into believing he was dying (disturbing and brilliant at the same time). Sugimoto takes out the soldiers and attempts to escape with Tsurumi right on his tail (he caught up quick). Asirpa takes out the horse with a poison arrow and despite Tsurumi still having a good shot at Sugimoto he decides not to take it (Tsurumi: He’s immortal. I just be wasting bullets). He returns to HQ which is on fire but the tattoos that they have are safe as Tsurumi turned them into a jacket and wears it constantly (I should be disgusted by this but this is the guy who goes around biting off fingers and stabbing people in the mouth with sticks. Wearing the skin of other people seems normal for this guy). Sugimoto makes it back to Asirpa where she welcomes him back by kicking him (scene here: https://youtu.be/kOPZQ6QswD0. She’s pissed and rightfully so. You treated her like a child, left her behind, got captured, and then had to be saved by her. Some soldier you turned out to be). Yoshitake catches up to them and they decide to kill the horse to avoid suspicion. They have horse meat for dinner where Asirpa finally eats miso and likes it (scene here: https://youtu.be/1jb734GnpTI). In another part of the episode we return to Toshizo who after getting weapons from an old friend tries to recruit the leader of a gang to his side, but negotiations fail and Toshizo and his men kill them all in a pretty badass scene with Toshizo dual wielding a gun and sword. After a joyful slaughter we find out that Toshizo’s ultimate goal is to revive the Shinsengumi and take over Hokkaido (man despite being a winter wonderland everyone really does want to take this place over). We return to Sugimoto and the others where Yoshitake has returned to town to get more information while Sugimoto and Asirpa hunt a dear. In the final moments of the episode we see the soldier who Retar attacked in episode 2 traveling with a bear hunter named Nihei a skilled hunter whose skills are renowned throughout Hokkaido (to prove how legit this guy is we see him kill a bear with one shot).
Not much really happens in episode 6. We find out that Nihei is one of the prisoners with a tattoo on him (oh man, what did this crazy fool do to wind up in prison?). It turns out this guy is responsible for killing three other hunters (though to be fair, they had it coming). While Nihei was in the forest hunting these three thieves tried to kill him in order to steal his kill and he took exception to that (as would anyone for that matter). For three days he hunted the thieves down one by one killing them with nothing but a club until he came to the last one who was captured by military officers. Rather then let them handle it he snaps the guy’s neck right in front of them and gets arrested for murder (what a badass. He won’t even let the military interfere with his hunt). For a majority of the episode Nihei and the military officer named Tanigaki (who also comes from a native tribe) hunt for Retar as well as learn a little bit more about Nihei such as his obsession with boners (he’s not crazy on a sociopathic level but he’s still crazy). Retar manages to trick them the first time (even leaving behind his poop to add to the insult) but almost gets his head blown off near the end of the episode when they set a trap for him but he gets saved by Asirpa. The episode ends with Sugimoto and Nihei fighting each other where Sugimoto manages to chop off a few of his fingers (scene here: https://youtu.be/V1pz2wz_OvI). There’s also this funny scene of Sugimoto, Asirpa, and Yoshitake getting drunk (scene here: https://youtu.be/2JkwsTnFp74).
Episode 7 opens up with the fight between Sugimoto and Nihei where Tanigaki manages to catch Asirpa which forces Sugimoto and Yoshitake to stand down in order to save her life (we can’t let the best character die). Tanigaki takes Asirpa away to spare her the horror of seeing Sugimoto and Yoshitake die but those two manage to escape from Nihei (Yoshitake proves once again to be a valuable ally) and start looking for Tanigaki to rescue Asirpa (scene here: https://youtu.be/tlR9CtNp7eg). Tanigaki falls into a trap and takes a poisonous arrow to the leg which will kill him unless he acts fast. Since there’s no antidote for Ainu poison (so what if one of the Ainu people fall into their own trap? (Yin-Yang): Then it just proves they weren’t good hunters), Asirpa has no choice but to cut out the poisonous area before it spreads throughout his body. Asirpa manages to cut out the poison but whether or not he’ll live is still in the air (it all depends on what the author can still do with this character). Nihei catches up to them and hangs Asirpa on a tree (well that’s demeaning) to lure out Retar and kill him (he’s not interested in the money or the fame. He just wants to prove that he was the better beast). Retar appears and manages to get a bite in but that bite is a double edge sword as he’s now defenseless (or is he?). Just when Nihei is about to shoot him, another wolf surprisingly comes out of nowhere and bites Nihei in the neck which kills him. It turns out this new wolf is Retar’s wife (nice) and they have 4 kids (well that’s cool. Too bad the wolf population is still gonna die out in a few years. Scene here: https://youtu.be/sBCvh9BZBbE). Sugimoto and Yoshitake manage to find Asirpa where they untie her, Sugimoto takes Nihei’s skin, and they take Tanigaki back to Asirpa’s to rest and hopefully heal. While there they eat, and we find out that there’s actually more gold then what they were initially led to believe. Tanigaki also talks about Tsunari’s ambitions which isn’t just to take over Hokkaido but use that gold to give everyone jobs who lost somebody in the war (Seras: Oh, well that’s of him) by turning Hokkaido into an arms dealership and making a profit off the weapons they make (Seras: Well a world war will be coming around in a few years. Best to get a head start now and beat the competition). Despite hearing Tsunari’s ambitions, Sugimoto is still determined to find that gold first and keep it out of Tsunari’s hands. In the final parts of the episode Toshizo, Ushiyama, and a few others go into town where Ushiyama goes to a brothel and runs into Yoshitake. Ushiyama chases after Yoshitake (woah, didn’t know you were into that as well) and we get a pretty hilarious chase as Yoshitake tries to escape Ushiyama such as dropping a mountain of snow of him and causing a horse to charge at Ushiyama but nothing seems to stop this guy. Finally, Yoshitake runs into soldiers from the 7th division, tells them about Ushiyama’s tattoo and prepare to fight him (scene here: https://youtu.be/9uxykx90f6Q).
In episode 8 Ushiyama gets into the fight with the soldiers which forces a shoot out between his group and the soldiers. On the other side of town, Toshizo is robbing a bank where they take all the jewelry and his prize a katana (and he became even more dangerous). He escapes by stealing Tsunari’s horse while Tsunari steals his hat (it looks good on him. He should wear hats more often. Scene here: https://youtu.be/1hjmB9dEBKE). As all of this is going on Yoshitake managed to get away and return to the brothel where one of the women gives him Ushiyama’s sock which he plans to use to track down Ushiyama. Yoshitake asks to use Retar but Asirpa says she has no intention of involving him any further into their dealings (he’s got kids) so Yoshitake uses Ryuu who was Nihei’s dog. Yoshitake manages to track down Ushiyama only to get captured and taken before Toshizo (no escaping this) where he’s forced to tell him about Sugimoto but lies about them having tattoos. Toshizo decides to use him and the others to find Henmi a prisoner who also has a tattoo and is a psychopathic killer (and easily the most disturbing man so far in this anime). There’s really no rhyme or reason to his killing, he just kills random people where ever he goes. In fact, he even watched his own brother get killed by a warthog and got a boner from it (that’s how disturbing and messed up this guy is. Scene here: https://youtu.be/1hjmB9dEBKE). Believing that he’s disguising himself as a fisherman, the three head to the ocean where they run into Asirpa’s uncle and other men from the tribe who are whale hunting. They join the hunt and catch a whale which drags their boats through a crowd of other boats where one of the fisherman falls overboard and Sugimoto’s boat go back to save him. The man they save just happens to be Henmi where he quickly becomes fascinated with Sugimoto and gets a boner just thinking about dying by his hands (scene here: https://youtu.be/8-zMdC0eYag).
The first half of episode 9 focuses on Sugimoto and Henmi. Asirpa goes to the restroom where she discovers some of Henmi’s handy work. Realizing he left a dead body in the restroom (indoor plumbing would have been wonderful at that time), he gets Sugimoto out of the worker’s sleeping quarters where they spot the 7th division so Henmi takes him up to a mansion but soldiers are there as well (looks like fighting is unavoidable). Henmi manages to kill one of them but gets shot by another soldier and rescued by Sugimoto. The owner of the mansion pulls out Maxim gun he got illegally and open fires on everyone (and he no doubt has a boner. Scene here: https://youtu.be/4XMezNyH2-4). Sugimoto manages to escape and makes his way towards the coast to meet back up with Yoshitake who reveals Henmi’s true identity. With his identity discovered, Henmi tries to kill Sugimoto with a sneak attack only to get stopped by Asirpa. This leads to a fight between Sugimoto and Henmi which is both gay and funny at the same time as Henmi just seems to be getting off on this fight. Sugimoto manages to pin him down with a bayonet (scene here: https://youtu.be/shUj0OA_kPY), but an orca comes in and snatches Henmi away (man that orca must have been a ninja. I didn’t see him at all). The orca doesn’t kill him but instead keeps tossing Henmi around until Sugimoto jumps in naked (if Asirpa hasn’t gone through puberty yet she has now) to save him and Asirpa spears the orca to give their boat a speed boast so they can escape the 7th division. Henmi dies in the boat and Sugimoto takes his skin promising to never forget Henmi (it’s hard to forget someone that weird). They find a place to sleep after escaping the 7th division and get a visit from Toshizo (scene here: https://youtu.be/i0nzUqzlRtc). In the second half of the episode we focus on Tanigaki where Ogata (the soldier that almost died of hyperthermia) and Nikaidou (the twin brother of the man Sugimoto killed in episode 5) have found the Ainu village and are looking for Sugimoto. They’re also here to kill Tanigaki as they believe he’s a traitor who killed the other soldiers in his group. Not wanting to kill Asirpa’s grandma, they head out of the village where Ogata reveals that he’s a marksman and tries to kill Tanigaki from a far. A bullet glazes past Tanigaki’s head and he has no choice but fight (scene here: https://youtu.be/kELbSK-oX6I). However, he has no gun except for Nihei’s gun which only has one bullet (he has no choice but to go for a double kill).
We got some exciting and informative stuff in episode 10. In the first half Tanigaki manages to make his way out of village in order to protect the Ainu and tries to formulate a plan to beat Ogata and Nikaidou (with one bad leg and a rifle with only one bullet, his chances aren’t looking good). Tanigaki knows he can’t beat both of them with one bullet so he saves for Ogata (smart move). He manages to find bear tracks and lays out a trap for the two next morning. He covers the bear tracks and set a fire near a dead animal hoping to lure out Ogata and Nikaidou. Nikaidou goes to investigate the fire (which still looks amazing) while Ogata stays hidden and Nikaidou gets attacked by the bear (which unfortunately still looks bad) where Ogata has to make a tough choice. If he fires, he’ll save Nikaidou’s life but in the process alert Tanigaki to his position; if he doesn’t fire, Nikaidou will die (go with option two there’s no faults with this plan). After Nikaidou loses an ear and begs for his life, Ogata saves him which exposes him to Tanigaki who he believes doesn’t have a gun (he’s in for surprise) and gets shot by Tanigaki (scene here: https://youtu.be/Bk-i-2KR6eQ, surprise bitch). As Ogata goes down presumably dead, soldiers from the 7th arrive with Tsurumi to capture Ogata and Nikaidou as they’re the real traitors. Ogata somehow survives the gunshot and shoots a few of the soldiers to make his escape leaving Nikaidou behind to get captured. Tanigaki uses this confusion to escape and return to the village while Tsurumi interrogates Nikaidou to find out who the other traitors in their ranks are. He cuts off Nikaidou’s other ear (why? Now he can’t hear your questions) and is about to cut off his nose until he promises to allow him to kill Sugimoto when they catch him which makes Nikaidou expose the other traitor in their ranks (scene here: https://youtu.be/t3RNevJCIds). In the second half of the episode Sugimoto, Asirpa, and Yoshitake come to a stream where Yoshitake falls in and is about to get swallowed by a huge fish. He gets saved by an Ainu named Kiroranke (scene here: https://youtu.be/X-uBjjaZ-k4), a friend of Asirpa’s father and who also used be member of the 7th division but wasn’t under Tsurumi’s command and isn’t part of the army anymore. They talk for a bit where he drops the bomb that Nopperabo (the man responsible for this wild goose chase) is actually Asirpa’s father (holy shit, the rabbit hole just got deeper). It turns out Nopperabo wasn’t originally from Japan but instead came here to find the gold and send it across the sea. Asirpa doesn’t believe Nopperabo is her father and won’t believe it unless she speaks to him herself (good luck, he’s in the toughest prison in Japan and I doubt they have visiting hours). The group decides to go to Abashri prison which is where they’re keeping Nopperabo, but to get there they’ll have to pass through Asahikawa which is the HQ of the 7th division and the commander is in Tsurumi’s pocket so even if they tell him what Tsurumi is up to he’ll just have them killed. Kiroranke suggests they take a detour to Sapporo where they can get weapons and explosives for the fight ahead (alright, now you’re speaking my language). While Sugimoto doesn’t completely trust Kiroranke as he believes he’s hiding something about Nopperabo he decides to trust him for the time being (if Asirpa likes him he can’t be all bad. The girl is good at judging people). The episode ends with them heading off on horses to Sapporo.
Episode 11 is hands down the funniest episode in the series so far. The group has made it to Sapporo where they’re staying at a hotel run by this beautiful woman named Ienaga. We see Ushiyama arrive before the others where even he’s smitten by Ienaga (can’t say I blame him but something feels off about her. I’m not sure why but something is off about this woman) and Yoshitake also falls for her. We find out that Ienaga is a tattooed prisoner and is also a man (I knew it. The anime senses never fail me). Before going to prison he was a doctor who had strength and looks that everyone loved but once old age set in his body began to deteriorate. He soon began kidnapping and killing people to eat their body parts believing an old physician’s theory that if you want to maintain a strong and healthy body, you eat the corresponding body part (eat an arm to make your arm better. Eat an eye to make your eye better. Eat a heart to your heart better. The list goes on). Ienaga wants to kill Ushiyama in order to eat his body as well as take Asirpa’s eyes. Ienaga captures Yoshitake for snooping around and tie him up in the basement (aka the torture room) while Ushiyama ran into the others, befriended them, and took them out for drinks where they talk about dicks (scene here: https://youtu.be/pwhRD59dG7w). Once they return, Ushiyama in his drunken state begins looking for Ienaga to bang where he falls down a trap door and winds up the basement with Yoshitake. He frees Yoshitake who uses the trap to climb back up while Ushiyama (drunk and horny) bashes his way out. Meanwhile, Ienaga uses a secret corridor to make it into Sugimoto and Asirpa’s where Sugimoto kicks him and escapes (scene here: https://youtu.be/ou6BJj94J_4) only to chase Yoshitake who uses one of Kiroranke’s bombs to blow up a section of the hotel (I hope you have insurance). Ienaga soon gets chased by Ushiyama (give him snu-snu) where they run into Sugimoto and the two men fight with Sugimoto falling down another trap door and into a section of the basement filled with alcohol. Now that his cover’s been blown, Ienaga decides to burn the place down with everyone inside. Sugimoto manages to make it back up where he grabs Asirpa and Kiroranke, Yoshitake accidently drops a bag of bombs into the basement (this won’t end well), and Ienaga gets crushed by one of the support teams and winds up in the arms of Ushiyama who has sobered up and return to normal just as the place explodes (https://youtu.be/7tClSJgMDF8). They all manage to survive and escape before any police or military officers show up (scene here: https://youtu.be/QcnawjN7RfA) with even Ushiyama surviving and holding an unconscious Ienaga in his arms.
In the final episode of the season the group is still in Sapporo where in order to get money to buy more explosives, they do some hunting and stay at a village where Asirpa’s relatives live. While there they come across a fortune teller named Inkarmat who gives accurate fortunes (and not so bad on the eyes either. (Corbin): Am I right boys?). Asirpa doesn’t believe in fortune telling, even when Inkarmat predicts that she’s looking for her father, Asirpa still has a few doubts. Yoshitake wanting to make some money takes Inkarmat to the tracks relying on her fortune telling to win. The plan works but for every fortune he has to buy some of her products (well I do trust her more than that Cleo lady. For those of you who grew up in the 90s, I thank you for your viewership). Kiroranke gets roped into riding a horse for the last race where he’s told to lose but he decides to win and tells the others to bet on him but Yoshitake decides to listen to Inkarmat and bets on another horse (he may be a master of escapes but a fool when it comes to money). The race begins where as you would expect Kiroranke wins and Yoshitake is most likely poor again. As they get set to head out Yoshitake tells them of another prisoner in Yuubari that he was told about from Ushiyama and Ienaga. They decide to take another detour and head to Yuubari while Ogata meets up with Toshizo to join his side as his bodyguard. While this episode may not feel like a good season finale it does open the door for a good starting point for the next season which is what they were going for.
Golden Kamuy was a fantastic and well told anime from beginning to end. It has the perfect balance of being funny, dramatic, suspenseful, and educational. Every character in some way is a badass in this anime and their interactions off each other are great. I love the partnership between Sugimoto and Asirpa. You can tell that Sugimoto respects and cares for her like a big brother to his little sister. He’s happy that she’s tagging along with him but at the same time he knows how much she means to her village and everyone in it which is why he tried to keep her out of harms way. Asirpa also respects Sugimoto and knows that by helping him she’ll reach her goals as well. She’s not just a pretty face, she’s clever, smart, and while her beliefs may hinder her in battle a bit I like how she’s able to work around them to help out Sugimoto. Speaking of beliefs, I like how Sugimoto is open and respectful of her customs and beliefs. He doesn’t just shoo them off to the side and ignore them, he actually listens to what Asirpa and the Ainu believe and goes along with their customs and beliefs finding them to be both educational and interesting. The other characters are good as well such as Yoshitake being more thanjust the comic relief character. He’s an escape artist who can escape out of anything which makes him quite useful when Sugimoto and Asirpa find themselves in a jam and he’s perfect for identifying the other prisoners. Tsurumi and Toshizo are some of the most interesting antagonists I’ve seen in anime. They both have grand goals for why they want the gold all while believing that their goals are just and will benefit those around them. Tsurumi was my favorite. I like how he goes from this intelligent man with an eye for strategy to a straight up savage to get what he wants and come across as borderline crazy. Toshizo was a badass and while we don’t get to see him all that much it’s obvious that he’s got a good handle of the situation he’s in and the build up to when all parties clash with him is being handled well. As I said before the stuff with the Ainu culture is all interesting and educational. When the anime stops to talk about their customs and beliefs it doesn’t come across as boring or needless. Instead, it’s something I always looked forward to hearing and adds a unique twist to an already great historical anime.
The action scenes are good. They’re not flashy, big, or over the top but instead all about survival, risk, strategy, and one’s will to face death and keep on going when the odds are stacked against them. The music is great as it matches up with the era they’re in while also adding in the present sound as well. The only real complaint I have with this anime is the animation. While the 2-D animation is decent for the most part, it’s not bad but not eye-popping either, the CGI is horrible here. Thanks to the white backgrounds because of the winter environment, the CGI stands out like a sore thumb and it does not look good at all. It looks completely out of place and is awkward to look at. The only time the CGI looks good is when the characters build a fire. The fire is actually impressive, and you can tell they were proud of this as they used it quite a bit throughout the anime. It’s like they actually made their own fire, recorded it, and put in the anime.
The final score for Golden Kamuy is a 7.5/10. It’s a great anime and would have been an 8 if they went more in-depth with the main characters so hopefully the second season will go more into that. If Asirpa really is Nopperabo’s daughter than this brings this series up to a whole new level and changes everything. I’m very excited to see what happens next in series and can’t wait to see what’s next for Sugimoto and Asirpa. Definitely check this anime out when you get a chance. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.
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